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The dust grain alignment mechanisms responsible for the polarized dust emission observed in Class 0 Protostellar cores

Presentation #306.03D in the session “Dust”.

Published onJan 11, 2021
The dust grain alignment mechanisms responsible for the polarized dust emission observed in Class 0 Protostellar cores

With the aim of characterizing the role played by magnetic fields in the formation of young protostars, several recent studies have revealed unprecedented features toward high angular resolution ALMA dust polarization observations of Class 0 protostellar cores. Especially, the dust polarization has been found to be enhanced along the cavity walls of bipolar outflows, which are subject to high irradiation from the reprocessed radiation field emanating from the central protostar. In addition, highly polarized dust thermal emission has been detected in region most likely linked with the infalling envelope, in the form of filamentary structure being potential magnetized accretion streamer. These observations allow us to investigate the physical processes involved in the Radiative Alignment Torques (RATs) acting on dust grains from the core to disk scales. Notably, we propose that the polarized emission we see at millimeter wavelengths along the irradiated cavity walls can be reconciled with the expectations of RAT theory if the aligned grains present in these cavities have grown larger than what is typically expected in young protostellar cores. To approach an estimation of the efficiency of dust alignment in protostars, we gathered all the available ALMA dust polarization observations of Class 0 protostars, to perform a statistical analysis examining the trend between the dispersion of polarization position angles S, and the fractional polarization Pfrac. We report a significant correlation between S and Pfrac, whose power-law index differs significantly from the one observed by Planck in star-forming clouds. The grain alignment efficiency, traced by the product of S and Pfrac, is surprisingly constant across three orders of magnitude in envelope column density. Synthetic observations of non-ideal magneto-hydrodynamic simulations of protostellar cores implementing RATs, show that the ALMA values of grain alignment efficiency lie among those predicted by a perfect alignment of grains, and are significantly higher than the ones obtained with RATs. Ultimately, our results suggest dust alignment mechanism(s) are efficient at producing polarized dust emission in the local conditions typical of Class 0 protostars. The grain alignment efficiency found in these objects seems to be higher than the efficiency produced by the standard RAT alignment of paramagnetic grains. Further study will be needed to understand how more efficient grain alignment via, e.g., different irradiation conditions, dust grain characteristics, or additional grain alignment mechanisms can reproduce the observations.

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